David McGuinness director & harpsichord
Mhairi Lawson soprano (tracks 4, 8)
Lucy Russell (leader), David Greenberg, Ruth Slater, Ken Aiso, Sarah Bevan-Baker, Emilia Benjamin, Fanny Pestalozzi, - violin; Katherine McGillivray, Kate Fawcet, - viola; Alison McGillivray, Joseph Crouch – cello; Malachy Robinson - double bass Katy Bircher, Brinley Yare – flute; Katharina Spreckelsen, Lorraine Wood - oboe Ursula Leveaux – bassoon; Anneke Scott, David Bentley – horn;
Notes on the works
As Kellie was an amateur composer in the very best sense, his manuscripts and printed texts don’t always attain a ‘professional’ level of polished attention to detail. He had more interesting things to do with himself than proofread, when his career and status did not depend upon it. The Kilravock parts appear to have been prepared by a neat but inexperienced copyist from a messy score: in the case of the C minor quartet, from a very messy score. There are many dynamic markings missing, slurs and articulation marks misplaced, and plenty of wrong notes.
While correcting obvious errors, I deliberately preserved some inconsistencies where they are musically interesting, particularly in the symphonies. Dull consistency and regularity don’t have appear to have been great priorities for Kellie in life or in music, and we have relished the occasional added variety of a ‘variant reading’ which may have been introduced by sloppy 18th-century draughtsmanship. To tidy up Kellie’s music too much seems out of character both with the music and with the man. Some textual and interpretative points in the symphonies were illuminated by the contemporary keyboard arrangements by Domenico Corri and others, although these have to be treated with caution, especially Corri’s bizarre sense of dynamics.
The quartets in the Kilravock MS also include three pieces from Robert Bremner’s 1765 collection ‘Six Simphonies. in four Parts, Proper for small or great Concerts. Composed by J: Stamitz, his Pupil the Earl of Kelly, and Others’. These ‘simphonies’ are clearly expected to sound equally well as chamber and as orchestral music, so from Kellie’s quartets we’ve played no.9 as a ‘small Concert’ with string quartet, and no.8 as a ‘great Concert’ with full strings and harpsichord.
This recording is dedicated with love to Katherine McGillivray and Alison McGillivray, who enabled me to finish it. My grateful thanks to John Purser for introducing me to Kellie’s music; to David Johnson for his tireless research, without which our knowledge of Kellie and his musical times would be much the poorer; to Iain McGillivray, Marie A Dunn, and Peter Ferguson-Smyth for practical help; to the staff of Glasgow University Library and the National Library of Scotland; and to my family for their great forbearance.